I find power to be one of the few things in this society we have created that every person from every walk of life aspires for. To quote Francis Underwood from House of Cards, “Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.” Castell’s mentions how social movements almost aways stem from the thought of unbearable living conditions and distrust in political powers. I’d argue that in that moment, the one where a social activist decides to start a movement, they feel powerless, yet crave the power for change at the same time. No one wants to be or feel powerless. It’s intimidating to know you may have no control over the choices and repurcussions that affect your life.
The United States of America also suffers from the fear of being powerless. The people in charge also fear being powerless. Social movements, I’d argue, are mechanisms of change that attempt to take, shift, relieve power from one party or organization and redistribute it to everyone who was lacking in power. Power, here, can be seen as the social good, and the U.S. government wants and, in some cases, may have what Walzer would describe as a monopoly. Or a method of using and controlling a social good to exploit its dominance. The U.S. wants to keep their power and monopoly because it is easy, it is stable and it allows those individuals in power to continue living in power. Why would they want to relinquish their monopoly? The U.S. is a democratic republic state, but often supports the power of authoritarian governments, many of which were oppressive, around the world. They give equal rights to citizens, but it can be argued that they also systematically mass incarcerate minority populations. Why would the government want this? Simple things like this make it easier for the government to control their power.
The Washington concensus was no different than the other examples above. Sub-Sahran Africa, in paticular, was growing steadily. GDP and production were rising and debt was not crippling. This only lasted so long, however, until the U.S. noticed the same growth patterns. The Washington Concensus and its structural adjustment practices were supposed to give the developing countries a chance to develop into the world economy, and that did not happen as history shows. There are various theories on why it did not work. The false paradigm theory, the 5 Stages of Growth by Rostow, etc. More developed economies could hurt or pull power away from the U.S. There is benefit to having thrid world countries in the the U.S. mind. they get cheap labor and cheap products, and can use the long arm of the law that is the U.S. military to keep third world countries at bay in times of high stress. Why the African nations would accept the policies when the economy was growing on its own is another question. The U.S. government perhaps saw the African nations were beginning to break from the usual stable mold of third world countries and had to do something to fix it. Finnegan writes that anarchism was becoming more and more popular with Latin Americans who were fed up with neoliberalism thinking. Maybe Africa was getting the same type of movement and needed some more neoliberalism thrown at them. The U.S. wants and enjoys its levels of high power, and social movements like Seattle or the growth of the African economies threatens the status quo.
All of this could be circumstantial, or it could all be completely false. But I still believe the allure of power leads people and organizations like the U.S. government to make decisions against their usual beliefs for their own sake. Power can be the most useful tool in the world when applied right, and the thought of giving it to another entity can be, frankly, frightening. It does not surprise me that the U.S. government is a target for these types of situations. Stability and power makes for an easy life. Why do anything different?